Major road construction will continue in Morristown through September.
• Installation of a prefabricated box culvert started this week on Mud City Loop. The culvert, built by a New Hampshire company, is being installed by Dale E. Percy Inc. of Stowe for about $130,000.
Installation should take three to four weeks, Town Administrator Dan Lindley said. Mud City Loop has been closed since Nov. 1, 2019, because flash floods damaged the existing culvert; it could no longer safely bear the weight of traffic.
“We’re hoping to be open by Labor Day,” Lindley said.
• Richmond-based J. Hutchins Inc. will be back in Morristown in September to rebuild and pave all or parts of Northgate Avenue, Harrel Street and Munson Avenue. The company repaved a section of Morristown Corners Road earlier this month. Hutchins bid $284,999 to rebuild and resurface all four roads.
Recent board business
Here’s a look at Morristown Select Board business in July:
• The board accepted a grant of up to $125,000 from the federal Department of Justice COPS Hiring Program to help Morristown police hire an officer in the near future. The department typically has 10 officers; because of a recent retirement, it’s down to nine.
Police Chief Richard Keith and the select board have been talking about expanding the department to 11 or 12 officers, so two officers at a time could be on duty more often. Now, Morristown typically has two officers on duty during the afternoon and evening, and just one in the morning.
“The intent, eventually, is to have two officers on duty at all times,” Keith said, which would likely require 12 full-timers.
“We’re not able to meet demand right now with 10 officers,” Keith added, particularly when time-consuming calls pop up.
The COPS grant covers between two-thirds and three-quarters of the cost of adding a new officer in the first year, Keith said. He took advantage of the COPS program in the 1990s, adding three officers. Typically a person typically hired through the program is fairly inexperienced, fresh from the police academy, and starts at the bottom of the pay scale.
“It worked very well for us then. It gives the town a chance to grow into it,” Keith said.
He estimates first-year pay and benefits for a new officer at $80,000 to $90,000; the COPS grant would cover all but about $25,000 of that. The grant could cover smaller portions of the new officer’s costs in years two and three, and in year four all costs would be borne by the town.
Keith needs to fill the job within a year, unless he asks for an extension. He worries about finding suitable candidates, even inexperienced ones.
“We’ve had no applicants for the open position we have already, so I’m not sure when we will be able to fill this one,” Keith said.
• The town sidewalk policy was updated to exempt certain developments in an area outside the village from having to build sidewalks.
The area along Route 100 from Bishop John A. Marshall School to Meadow Drive was rezoned low-density residential in an annual zoning update. Without the exemption, developments there would need sidewalks along the state highway, but “sidewalks don’t make much sense” there, said zoning administrator Todd Thomas.
Now, only new developments within the village’s sewer district need sidewalks.
• Green Mountain ATV Club members raised the possibility of opening some town roads to four-wheelers, side-by-sides and other ATVs. Lindley said club representatives will meet with him and the police chief, and a final proposal will be brought to the board at a later date.
• The town has agreed to lease the Noyes House Museum to the Morristown Historical Society for the next 20 years, with the option to extend the deal for 10 more years, to 2050.
Morristown’s municipal government took possession of the Noyes House Museum several years ago and has been making improvements to the building since. The historical society, which had been in the building before the takeover, asked for a formal lease.
“They will be there as long as they like,” Lindley said.
• After an executive session, the board voted to hire Devin Matten as a permanent employee in the town highway department. The department had a vacancy after Dean Shedd retired earlier this summer.
Matten will be paid $19.89 per hour; after a six-month probationary period, the board will re-evaluate his contract and conduct a performance review. Matten, who has worked for the Vermont Agency of Transportation for the past two years, will be part of the town’s highway crew, not the village street crew. His hire brings the combined departments back to full strength at 11 full-time employees.
• The board appointed Kasey Longe to replace Maggie Cleary on the town recreation committee.
• The town is buying a LUCAS chest compression system — automated CPR — for the Morristown Emergency Medical Services Department to replace an older model. The $13,596 machine is within the town’s $14,000 budget for the purchase.
“It’s much more efficient, effective, it saves lives,” Lindley said. The older machine will be traded in for $3,000.
• A slightly used street sweeper for the highway department will cost $214,000. That purchase is part of the current highway budget.
The current street sweeper is over 20 years old, Lindley said. The new sweeper was a demo model before Morristown bought it.
• For $12,500, the town is buying four new tires for the village street crew’s front-end loader, which is used for snow removal and many other tasks.
• A new $10,500 salt spreader will be installed on one of the highway department’s older single-axle dump trucks.
The new spreader is similar to those commonly seen on pickup trucks used for plowing private drives, but is much larger, and will be the town’s primary salt spreader on paved roads.